Cats and Chickens


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 15, 2010
I don't free range my chickens because there are 4-5 cats in our area. The only cat that seems interested in the chickens is our cat who often climbs the coop trying to gain access. Can chickens defend themselves against a cat?
I can't say how all chickens and cats interact, by my hens free range right along w/several neighborhood cats. Our cat is a great hunter, getting mice, chipmunks and rabbits on a regular basis...she leaves our adult chickens alone. Of course, once when the cat was sunning in the yard, a chicken wanted to cross the yard to get to her friends and stepped on the sleeping cat! I would never trust her with any young chicks though.
Our cats are scared of our full grown chickens but I wouldn't trust the cats around young chicks. The hens will chase the cats away from their cat food if given the chance. Chickens love cat food.
My last flock was pretty laid-back about the cats, and they interacted in a very friendly way--cats were curious, but the chickens were much more bird than they were interested in (and one of the cats has been known to stalk a wild turkey or two). The new flock, however, is wary of the felines, and some of the more dominant hens even chase them away-the cats want _nothing_ to do with them.

Usually standard size chickens are fine defending themselves from cats, but it does depend somewhat on the personalities of the individual chicken and cat. If a chicken is timid and acts like prey that might give a cat with strong predator instincts the courage to try to take her on.

My tiny bantams are definitely vulnerable to roaming neighborhood cats because of their size, so I don't free range them without supervision. We have an elderly Boston terrier who sometimes is out in the yard while the chickens are loose. He pays them no mind, but lately one of our young d'Uccles has started to stalk him. So now I'm following the old dog around the yard to make sure he doesn't get bullied by the chickens!
I was nervous about a bunch of feral neighborhood cats when I first put my girls out at about 6 weeks. The cats were VERY interested and the chickens were pretty small still. I started to free range them a few weeks later once they got bigger and one day saw a cat tearing heck out of my yard with the turken in hot pursuit and the rest of the girls behind her bawking in support. They've done the same to squirrels, wild turkeys and just about anything small to mid-sized that comes close to their coop.

I think it would be a big deal for smaller or more timid chickens, but I'm no longer worried about cats.
I have 17 free range large fowl and have had at one time at another 6 cats, 3 dogs, and more neighborhood cats. The chickens ignore the others. At one time, one of the cats would pretend to stalk the chickens, hiding then jumping out at them, but never closer to a chicken than maybe 4'. Evidently a chicken or two put her in her place; she doesn't do this any more.
I have 2 cats that roam with my chickens. The oldest cat sasha is very friendly with them and loves to take her afternoon nap in a nesting box preferrably with an eg or 2 in there. She truely thinks she is a cat. The other cat sam is still young at just over 1 yr old and for the longest time I couldn't trust him. Recently we have been letting him out more and more (seems to keep hawks away) He has stalked them, chased them, but hasn't hurt them. Neither cat have front claws and never leave our yard. We also have a few strays running around. One is great with the chickens and the other not so great which is why My cats are outside to chase the bad mean cat away. Sasha is like a LGD of sorts, she protects the flock like any trained dog would do. She is teaching sam the ropes. I have never had any predator losses when she has been outside. If she stays in the hawk gets lucky!
Every once in a while someone will report a cat killing a chicken in the predator/pest section. Personally, I've never seen it and we have had a variety of cats as well as feral ones over the 25 years that haven't harmed adult birds. I did lose a couple of fuzzy chicks to a cat back the first year I kept them--was brooding on the floor in the cellar and left the door open to the room they were in. Once those birds feathered out, that cat left them alone. An adult, heavy breed of chicken would be a pretty tough kill for anything but a really big cat. I've lost free ranging birds to dogs, coons, possums, weasels, foxes and hawks but never a cat.

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